'Air ambulance saved my eyesight' says Chipping Norton mechanic after a gas cylinder exploded in his face

A rally motorsport mechanic says his eyesight was saved thanks to the speed of the emergency services after a gas cylinder exploded in his face.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 11:52 am
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 11:54 am

Kevin Soles (62) from Chipping Norton was working when the regulator on a gas cylinder exploded in his face and the force of the pressure split his eye open and detached the retina.

His eye was full of blood and he couldn’t see and there were concerns that splinters could have entered his brain, which luckily scans revealed later had not happened.

The 62-year-old said the speed of the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) saved his eyesight.

Kevin Soles after he grew a beard to raise money for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

“The helicopter got me to hospital quickly and saved my sight," he said.

"It was the smoothest way to travel. If I had gone in a land ambulance and there had been splinters in my brain they could have been dislodged by the vibrations of the vehicle – and that would’ve been very dangerous.”

Mr Soles has now spoken about the accident, which happened in 2008, to help others donate to the WNAA.

Forever grateful to WNAA for being there in his hour of need, Kevin regularly donates items to the Shipston shop and he grew a beard in November 2019 which raised £140 for the charity.

Kevin Soles before he grew a beard to raise money for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

He is usually clean shaven and thought it would be a novelty way to give something back.

The accident happened in 2008 at Turweston Aerodrome near Brackley and Kevin was flown to hospital in Coventry in just 16 minutes.

He had an operation to reattach the retina and stitch his eye and after two days was discharged from hospital. After two months he was well enough to return to work.

He said: “When the accident happened I was very concerned that I might lose my eyesight.

"My eyes were strapped so I couldn’t see anything when I was in the helicopter but I knew I was in good hands and I was being taken to the right place.

“When I left hospital I could just see faint images but my sight gradually came back and I have 20/20 vision now. I am very lucky to have such good eyesight after such a serious accident."

A spokesperson for the WNAA said: "Being able to share stories like Kevin’s is what makes it possible for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire air ambulance, a service run entirely on donations, to raise funds and keep flying.

"We rely on patients coming forward, so if you’ve had personal experience of your local air ambulances we'd love to hear your story.

"To find out more on supporting your local air ambulance, visit theairambulanceservice.org.uk or call 03003 045 999".